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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dunkin' Donuts Helps Wounded Vets, Duckworth to Help VA Use New Media to Reach Vets, Coming Healthcare Crisis?, Veterans Corps Bill

  • The Boston Globe | Dunkin' will help vets with Iced Coffee Day - "Dunkin' Donuts, the Canton-based chain of coffee-and-baked-goods shops, announced an Iced Coffee Day on April 21 that aims to benefit injured veterans. On Iced Coffee Day, the price for a small cup of iced coffee will be reduced to 50 cents at participating shops, the chain said; for every small iced coffee purchased on this day, Dunkin' Donuts said it will donate five cents to benefit Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans." For more, visit their special website or their Facebook event page.

  • Honolulu Advertiser | VA nominee Duckworth plans online outreach to veterans - Duckworth told senators yesterday that: "To become a 21st-century organization, the DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs) will have to change some past methods. It's no longer enough to hand out brochures at demobilization ceremonies. We must develop social networking strategies, use nontraditional outlets such as blogs, and employ the wide variety of new media available to get the message of available benefits to our veterans."

  • GOOD | The Memory War - "We might be on our way out of Iraq but things are just starting to pick up in Afghanistan. With record-high number of veteran suicides and rising rates of PTSD and clinical depression in every branch of the armed forces, is the nation headed for a mental-healthcare crisis?"

  • Navy Times | Senate OKs creation of Veterans’ Corps - "A program in which veterans would volunteer to help active-duty members make the transition to civilian life has moved a step closer to reality with the Senate’s March 26 vote to more than triple the number of national service jobs. The bill, HR 1388, authorizes a new Veterans’ Corps, whose success would be measured by the number of veterans who are helped to go to college or find jobs, the number of military families provided assistance, and the number of homeless veterans who find housing."
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Salon Investigation: Army Doctors Pressured Not to Diagnose PTSD, Senate Armed Services Committee Refuses to Look Into Matter

And now, back to reality.

After my glowing post yesterday, nodding to the many Army generals nudging military culture into the 21st century by admitting that anyone can and does get PTSD, it doesn't take long for things to come crashing back down to reality.

Michael de Yoanna and Mark Benjamin for Salon:

For more than a year he's been seeking treatment at Fort Carson for a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature injuries of the Iraq war. Sgt. X is also suffering through the Army's confusing disability payment system, handled by something called a medical evaluation board. The process of negotiating the system has been made harder by his war-damaged memory. Sgt. X's wife has to go with him to doctor's appointments so he'll remember what the doctor tells him.

But what Sgt. X wants to tell a reporter about is one doctor's appointment at Fort Carson that his wife did not witness. When she couldn't accompany him to an appointment with psychologist Douglas McNinch last June, Sgt. X tucked a recording device into his pocket and set it on voice-activation so it would capture what the doctor said. Sgt. X had no idea that the little machine in his pocket was about to capture recorded evidence of something wounded soldiers and their advocates have long suspected -- that the military does not want Iraq veterans to be diagnosed with PTSD, a condition that obligates the military to provide expensive, intensive long-term care, including the possibility of lifetime disability payments.

And, as Salon will explore in a second article Thursday, after the Army became aware of the tape, the Senate Armed Services Committee declined to investigate its implications, despite prodding from a senator who is not on the committee. The Army then conducted its own internal investigation -- and cleared itself of any wrongdoing.

Fort Carson, you may recall, was the site of a major scandal in 2006-2007 when first the Colorado Springs Independent (CSIndy) and CBS News reported in July 2006 that some troops were receiving abuse rather than proper treatment for their reintegration issues and/or PTSD after returning from Iraq. In December 2006, NPR broke the story even wider; Senate investigations followed.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Sage Markers of Military Culture Change: Generals Continue Coming Forward to Share Their Stories of PTSD and Suicide

Wisdom. What is it?

Something forged out of experience, certainly. Usually that wisdom-forging insight stems from a walk down a challenging or difficult path, and combat experience would surely qualify here, one requiring either cognitive or physical effort (or both) to overcome.

Cognitive elements might include grappling with the events of one's own life as well as contemplating the greater meaning of those experiences. This avenue to wisdom will also eventually lead to a consideration of the greater forces on one's life or the existence of a higher power.

And what would the value of all of this wisdom work be if its product is not shared with others -- no matter the cost?

Cited in Richard Hawley Trowbridge's doctoral dissertation, "The Scientific Approach of Wisdom," [doc] social psychologist and Rutgers University professor Deirdre A. Kramer distinguishes five specific functions of wisdom: (a) finding solutions to problems that confront the self; (b) advising others; (c) management of social institutions; (d) life review; and (e) spiritual introspection.

One function, as noted above, of wisdom concerns its responsibility and ties to social institutions. Again, what benefit would wisdom have if not shared with larger society through organized (and other) means? Those in positions of power to enlighten and broaden the knowledge and understanding base of society and its institutions, especially when the activity might threaten one's career or image, are to be applauded.

Those who do this work are our modern sages and heroes.

When I say hero, it is as described by Franciscan priest and writer Richard Rohr in his book, Quest for the Grail:

The American Plains warriors, according to ancient legend, used to say in the morning: "It's a good day to do great things." To be able to say that and mean it was a magnificent ambition. Such an aspiration stirs something deep in the heart of any [striving] to be a hero. ...

A hero, for the record, is not a saint, much less a god.

In the great mythologies and legends, the hero is always an ordinary human being, with at least one tragic flaw. A hero is one who simultaneously keeps an eye on himself and a goal beyond himself.

Four Army generals of late have become my heroes.


Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Used at Forts Hood and Bliss, Brain Scan Imaging Detects PTSD Sooner, Migraines and PTSD

  • Acupuncture Today | Weighing the Costs - "Advocates for the integrated approach in the treatment of PTSD at both Ft. Hood and Ft. Bliss were convinced that the traditional methods of treating PTSD weren't long enough in duration, intense enough or comprehensive enough. A program was created that would address all aspects of PTSD and treat the whole soldier. This integrative approach treats many of the symptoms of PTSD that are not addressed through the standard mental health protocols, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy. The concept eventually led to the implementation of the Ft. Bliss Restoration & Resilience Center and the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Ft. Hood that incorporated medical massage, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, marital/family therapy and reiki with the standard treatment protocols of cognitive-behavioral and cathartic psychotherapies and pharmacotherapy."

  • Reuters | Brain scans may detect post-trauma stress sooner - "The scans of 42 U.S. soldiers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan in the recent past showed that, compared with healthy veterans, those suffering from PTSD had marked differences in some areas of brain activity. The study, presented at the World Psychiatric Association Congress in Italy, suggested identifying certain brain patterns could one day help diagnose PTSD before symptoms appeared and better track treatment, the researchers said."

  • PTSD Common in Migraine Patients: Study - "Patients with migraine, whether episodic or chronic, are more apt to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population, suggests new research reported in the April issue of Headache. Furthermore, the presence of PTSD in migraineurs is independently associated with greater headache-related disability. 'Taken together, our findings suggest that identification and treatment of PTSD in migraine sufferers is an important and potentially modifiable part of their care that may reduce migraine-related disability and progression to chronic daily headache,' Dr. B. Lee Peterlin and colleagues conclude. In their study of 593 headache patients (mean age 42.2 years; 92% women) with episodic migraine or chronic daily headache, Dr. Peterlin's team found that PTSD was present in 30.3% of those with chronic daily headache and 22.4% of those with episodic migraine. By comparison, approximately 8% of the population is estimated to have PTSD."
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